Type 94 Nambu at the Backup Gun Match

The Type 94 Nambu pistol is best known for the exposed sear that allows it to be fired by pressing on the side of the gun. This is actually not really the safety issue it’s usually made out to be, but that’s a point for another video. Today, I took a Type 94 to my local Backup Gun Match. This match has stages intended for limited capacity, close range guns, and is a great chance to do some quasi-practical shooting with guns like this one.

Unfortunately, the Precision Cartridge ammunition I used for this match was inconsistent and underpowered, leading to several malfunctions (I should have made a point to get Steinel 8mm Nambu…). Other than that, the gun was very nice to shoot – it has a good trigger, small sights, and is much more comfortable to handle than it looks like it would be. It is also a more durable gun than the much nicer-looking Type 14 Nambu, and it’s smaller size made it more convenient for the pilots, tank crews, and others who carried it. I chose to shoot the match with an issued katana as well, which forced me to shoot one-handed…


  1. Swords for the definite kills, no surprise! That said, the Type 94 is almost on par with most compact side-arms save for finishing issues related to subcontractor cost-cutting. I would not like to get that pistol or the officer’s katana stuck anywhere near my face. There really are fools who would actually stand there and think that 8×22 would bounce off their bare chests without hurting them, trust me… I could be wrong on other issues.

    • Anyone else want to see ian do a two-gun with a katana and a tanto? You made my morning ian with that last part. I kove that you have a sense of humor Ian never lose it.

  2. Is that a replica gunto or a genuine mass-produced WW2 item? I assume that it’s a rep. Or (horrors!) is it a gunto hilt fitted to an old and authentic blade? Anyway, quit carrying it edge-down! Try to please your ancestors!

    • He can’t carry it cutting-edge upwards, as he has no sash or sword belt! If it is a military issue hilt on an ancient family sword, do you REALLY think Ian would use it like that?

      • Well of *course* Ian wouldn’t mistreat an antique blade! I was just taking the pish. As for edge up or down: the prewar and wartime scabbards were neither tachi nor katana design. They were hybrids; somebody in some ministry just had to be different. When worn, a single-ring NCO’s scabbard would hang point down, with the sword’s edge pretty much vertical. But I doubt that a cheap gunto got much respect or careful maintenance anyway, at least not out in the field. Howsomever, I yield to anybody with as much as 25 cents’ worth of knowledge about Japanese cutlery.

  3. How ‘mass produced’ were the Nambus – given the then state of Japanese industry / technology. There is a ‘rumor’ that they to a degree hand built / finished and that interchangeability was ‘interesting’ / limited ?

    • Let’s see here, most Japanese weapons (if not all) prior to the creation of the Self-Defense Forces were hand finished (just look at all the Arisaka rifles from the Type 38 onwards, which were given lacquer finished stocks and hand-fitted bolt covers). Parts were NOT meant to be changed between guns without the expertise of an actual gunsmith. Considering that Japan had a REALLY tight material budget, there was very little thought given to making loads of spare gun parts (aside from firing pins, perhaps). Suffice to know that there were plenty enough weapons to go around, why else would America demand that surplus guns and ammunition (and a few thousand low-quality machine-forged swords) be dumped into Tokyo Bay or tossed into blast furnaces as a condition of COMPLETE disarmament?

  4. “Tenno! Heika! BANZAI!!”

    What? No lunge mine?

    So even the single-worst service handgun, evar, with lackluster ammunition in a relatively weak 8x22mm loading still garnered some hits… I was surprised there was not a discharge from gripping the side where the 1914 Mauser-ish trigger bar/sear was placed, but then also relieved?

    Boy was this a nutty backup gun match! “ping!” popper target slooowly falls…

  5. I understand that Ian was shooting marginal ammunition (probably deliberately loaded weak because of the questionable condition of some WW2 surplus pistols) but the video leaves you wondering if a sword that never jams and never runs out of ammunition might be a viable weapon in that phone booth fight. I’ll agree with the old maxim that nobody wants to be shot, but I’ll guarantee that nobody wants to get cut either. If I was a Japanese officer I’d probably want to put my faith in something heavier than the 8mm Nambu round particularly if I was shooting at big young healthy marines, but a good sword and the skill to use it properly might be an interesting choice at close range.

  6. Nice 🙂

    WwII (and the Malayan insurgency in which Japanese troops fought for the British Empire immediately after The nuking of japanese cities) katana and tanto tended to be cheap shite, but you woudnt want to be cut by either

    And while a pistol only shoots straight, a blade can be used for all sorts of sneaky shite, even by the person who is facing it. It definitely doesn’t need to be double edged to cut the neck of its holder.

    • You’re talking about hand-to-hand brawling with cheap machine-forged blades, Keith, and nobody likes the idea of getting into such a brawl. The most important rule of combat: DON’T DIE.

  7. “(…)forced me to shoot one-handed…(…)”
    How were Japanese soldiers taught to shot this weapon: with one or both hands?

  8. I have no direct experience with the Type 94. I do have a Type 14, made in 1944. It’s in good mechanical shape.

    I got some of the PCI 8mm Nambu. It’s very clean and nice looking externally.

    Firing was pleasant and nice, it was accurate and easy to aim with good grip ergonomics. I had 100% Failure to Feed rate though! Often it was “almost” in battery and a good tap on the round charging grip put it in battery for firing. A few stovepipe FTE’s.

    I replaced the original recoil springs with new ones. At that point I could get chains of 2, 3 or maybe 4 good shots. I couldn’t complete a magazine without failures though.

    I own a few other WWII surplus pistols. P-38, Luger, Beretta Model 1934, M1911A1, Nagant M1895 revolver, Webley revolver…the Type 14 is easily the worst for any real world consideration. It may be underpowered ammo that isn’t working the action properly, though.

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